Tuesday, March 15, 2011

I'm Back on the Terrace Again

Getting here wasn't necessarily easy, but it was worth it. And it's not the nicest of days--windy and rainy. To give you an idea of the variability of the weather here, if you check the forecast on the widget to the right for Yellowstone, it will tell you there's going to be a foot or so of snow in the next 36 hours (as of post time). But if you check the forecast for Gardiner, the little town five miles away from me, it will tell you to expect an inch or two.

The trip from Bozeman was a death-defying adventure. Apparently the van that picked us up barely had any brakes. Actually, it didn't really cause any problems along the way but when it got turned in and checked, the driver was told it shouldn't have been on the road. The first big wildlife spotted along the way were a few herds of mule deer. Then as we got closer to Yellowstone, we had to stop to let the last of a herd of elk cross the street. And then when we'd barely gotten in the park, we had to stop to let the last of a herd of bison cross the road.

After that, it got interesting! We were a little farther into the park, on the two lane winding, climbing, road that leads to Mammoth when we came upon a couple dozen bison in the road. They were going our way (and it's a good sign to see them heading back into the park as the warmer weather of recent days is exposing some of the ground for grazing), but they were taking up the entire road with no way around them for us, and no easy way off the road for them with a steep drop on one side and a steep climb on the other. So we did our best bison impression and joined the back of the herd.

Then around the downhill curve ahead, a large snow plow came at us all, and the plow dragged on the road, grinding loudly.
I think it was deliberately lowered to move the bison but possibly it was just the result of the curve. In any case, the immediate effect was to send two dozen bison into a U-turn stampeding straight at the small car we were in (because we'd turned in the defective van) some ten feet away. I was in the front passenger seat so I had a very good view of tons of bison heading straight at us. The three of us had no doubt that at least one bison was going to hit the car head on, and maybe try to run right over it. It seemed impossible for them to avoid us but they somehow did, both in the empty lane to the left and on the narrow edge of the road a foot to my right.

I felt both very grateful to the bison for caring
whether they ran over us, and very annoyed that they'd been forced to exert energy (it's been a very tough winter for them) and were now heading in the wrong direction.

Between a couple human resources tasks, I had enough free time today to get my mailbox key and mail, pick up the box of stuff I'd left behind (where I happily discovered a couple t-shirts I'd decided in Duluth that I must have thrown out), and say hello to former coworkers. I was happy to discover that a couple I liked last year but who weren't expected back are actually here and will be through the fall. And for the moment, I not only have a room and bathroom to myself, I have a whole suite. The connected room (shared bathroom) will be filled by a couple friends in April, but I don't know when I'll be getting a roommate or who it will be. And like last year, I'm starting off sick here. I woke in Bozeman feeling congested and am now dripping and sneezing and learned that everyone here is just getting over the flu so I'll probably be picking that up as well.

I'm still unpacking, but made time to take a quick walk and quick photos before dinner. Here's what the place looked like today.


Jain said...

The view seems well worth a couple of sniffles. I've found, when moving to a different ecosystem, that it takes a bit of time to acclimate to the native microorganisms. Feel better soon!

Woodswalker said...

Adventures await! I am so happy to hear you are back in a place that you love.

Terry said...

Having been in a small car as a adult male bison saunters by, I know how insubstantial they make a car feel. At least the one I saw wasn't in a hurry. Get well and enjoy the park.

greentangle said...

Wow, 3 comments in 7 minutes--I'm impressed, folks. Thanks for the well wishes--I'm feeling miserable and would love to spend the day in bed, but it's the first day of training, so off I must go. I feel like a herd of bison ran over me! ;-)

Allan Stellar said...

Thrilling to be charged by a bison...